More than Marmalade: Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear

Chicago Review. Mar. 2020. 144p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781641603140.
Gr 2-5–Tolin discusses the literary career of Michael Bond, best known for his stories featuring Paddington Bear. The biography, which uses “fictionalized scenes,” opens with a 10-year-old boy living a fairly typical English childhood and ends with the esteemed author, age 91, relaying his life as a story with conversations and detailed descriptions. This format makes for a very readable and enjoyable book, but might confuse readers trying to sort out fact from conjecture. A running theme of the book, initially mentioned in the author’s note prior to the first chapter, portrays Paddington as a symbol of immigration and refugees. Bond was inspired by the children he saw at train stations evacuated during World War II. Throughout his life, he often wrote in support of allowing refugees into the country. Including this narrative thread makes the book very relevant to current events without getting too political. The book lacks reproduced primary source documents, but there are a number of photographs showing the areas where Bond lived. Illustrations feature various representations of Paddington. While not a perfect biographical work, this title will delight Paddington fans and appeal to readers who enjoy nonfiction works like the “Who Was?” series.
VERDICT A simple chapter book biography perfect for students seeking a storylike approach to the life of Paddington creator Michael Bond. Recommended for pleasure reading instead of research.

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